More Than Meets the Eye at TRANSACT 16

ETA’s councils and committees address critical business issues

By Amy Zirkle

Attendees at ETA’s TRANSACT 16 were offered a tremendous opportunity to hear from a broad segment of industry leaders and key players in the payments ecosystem. Whether listening to compelling keynote sessions presented by executives from companies such as Discover, First Data, PayPal, and Square who oversee dynamic aspects of payments within their organizations; attending informative sessions and panel discussions that provided perspective and insight at a deeper level by touching upon myriad key issues; or feeling the sheer excitement that radiated on the show floor, TRANSACT 16 brought it all together.

But, for ETA members, there was much more to experience. One of the true benefits of TRANSACT is that not only is it a vibrant trade show and conference, it also serves as an opportunity for the many member-led, industry-focused councils and committees to meet in person. During those meetings, members work together to address and consider the vital business issues that drive the payments industry.

The Value of Face Time

As an industry that embraces and utilizes technology to further innovation and expedite operations, there is something to be said for returning to some of the basic principles and approaches that have always been a part of doing business. What instantly springs to mind is the value and importance of having a face-to-face meeting.

For ETA member companies, the beauty of TRANSACT has been the ability to set aside a full day for our industry-focused committees to meet in person and discuss critical issues of common concern. A further benefit of those meetings is the fact that they set in motion connections that build further relationships that can evolve into new business opportunities and networking possibilities. For those payment geeks among us, this takes facial recognition technology to a new level. And this year, there was a lot to discuss.

At a high level, themes and issues emerged that were consistently discussed across several committee and council meetings.

Without a doubt, security remains paramount to the payments industry. We can leverage technology and innovate every day, but, if the promise of data protection slides and security is compromised, no one benefits. Our members manage a host of security issues on a regular basis, whether dealing with network security or reliability matters.

Payments professionals are reviewing every nook and cranny of this industry to address the relevant aspects of the ongoing EMV migration. That means almost every member category within ETA is touched by this transition—and that means we are intensely focused on the goal of working together as an industry to enable EMV to become part of the payments landscape.

However, when considering the broader payments landscape and the continuing market dynamics accompanied by technological innovation, ETA member groups spent time discussing the future strategic opportunities and potential new developments to take place in payments.

A Closer Look at Committee EMV Work

Last year, ETA established a Retail Technology Committee to focus on identifying current and emerging technology and business-related issues and opportunities resulting from the convergence of traditional POS and integrated payments in the retail space. In short, the committee’s focus is on enabling partnerships and exploring economic opportunities for retail technology.

During its meeting at TRANSACT 16, the Retail Technology Committee discussed a variety of issues, including the EMV transition. An important priority for the committee is to develop materials that can serve to educate the small- and medium-sized merchant community to provide guidance on how to effectively implement EMV. In the presence of integrated software vendors (ISVs) and value-added resellers (VARs) within payments, the Retail Technology Committee considered and will continue to explore the possible impact on security issues with the expanding integration of new players in the payments arena. In addition, the group is examining emerging trends in retail technology and the adoption by merchants to expand consumer choice.

Given the role the sales channel plays in the payments marketplace, earlier this year ETA decided to redefine and revise the ISO Committee so that it better reflects the emerging trends and changes that impact payment sales. Thus, ETA launched our Payment Sales and Strategy Committee, which not only looks at issues of concern to payment sales organizations and the legacy ISO channel but also considers what should be the broader strategic focus.

During meetings held before the TRANSACT 16 kickoff, the committee delved deeply into a number of areas of concern with a keen focus on the ongoing EMV migration. For the sales channel, there are a number of items under intense discussion with respect to the migration. For this committee, it is especially vital for those sitting around the table to share insights and offer differing perspectives on how best to manage the migration flow and process. Reviewing common concerns and trying to work together as an industry segment as it comes to terms with the matters related to EMV certification and terminal/software upgrades proved to be a key focus of discussion.

When the ETA Risk, Fraud, and Security Council convened its meeting, the focus again turned to EMV matters. From the perspective of the council, which comprises professionals responsible for compliance and managing risk issues at their organizations, the EMV focus is largely on fully managing the EMV liability shift in an effective manner and further considering what the impact is for chargebacks. The council is working to define best practices to offer industry guidance on the shifting chargeback space in an EMV world.

In addition, the council is looking at a host of security related matters that impact risk and compliance for payment organizations. Whether the attention is on managing holistic security for merchants, addressing new malware trends, or examining third-party risk, the council is furthering its work in this space. A part of those discussions includes additional attention to the work of the PCI Council and its various certification programs.

Given the dynamic nature of the payments industry, ETA’s Mobile Payments Council and Technology Council held a joint meeting to consider a number of issues where common interests reside. Most notably, the group welcomed Brett McDowell, from the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, who discussed the work of FIDO authentication and its relevance for enhanced security mechanisms for payments. Again, the theme of security remains an area of key focus.

Accompanying these discussions was dialogue around emerging industry trends and new technology, and how payments are evolving in light of all the exciting changes underway in our industry.

That concludes our quick re-cap of the successful round of industry committee meetings held at TRANSACT 16—but, of course, our work doesn’t stop there. In fact, the work actually will accelerate now that we’ve had the opportunity to meet, work together, and build up our connections.

We hope that if you aren’t currently actively involved in any of our industry committee and council efforts, that this review of ETA committee work will entice you to think about engaging, volunteering, and working alongside your industry colleagues as we tackle some of these important and challenging issues.


Amy Zirkle is the director of industry affairs for ETA. You can reach her at azirkle@electran.org.